Oil and gas companies active in Myanmar have been urged to cut off the supply of revenues to the military junta that staged a coup in the Southeast Asian producer nation early last month.

Last weekend saw the bloodiest pro-democracy protests in Myanmar since 1 February, when the military seized power and subsequently detained more than 1300, including civilian lawmakers, activists and journalists.

"Such deadly violence against peaceful demonstrators cannot be justified," said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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At least 11 demonstrators were shot and killed on 28 February alone.

Human rights groups have upped their pressure on international investors, including oil and gas companies, to suspend operations and stop paying royalties and taxes to the junta.

“Any mining, gas or oil company operating in Myanmar is at risk of legitimising the rule of the military. Offshore gas is a major source of wealth for Myanmar, which will now flow to the generals,” said Clancy Moore, a director at advocacy coalition Publish What You Pay (PWYP).

Australian independent Woodside is reducing its workforce in Myanmar and will withdraw its drilling crew once the current offshore exploration campaign is completed in the coming weeks.

It also said that it will review its future business in Myanmar, where it was planning this year to enter the front-end engineering and design phase for the Block A-6 offshore giant gas development with operator Total and partner MPRL.

Woodside currently has no producing assets in the country.

“We call on other gas and mining companies to follow Woodside’s lead and choose the people of Myanmar over the military generals. This includes multinationals Chevron and Total, and Australian companies… ROC and Tap Oil,” added Moore.

“Oil and gas companies that are already in production should place all cash payments into a separate account and ensure that no money flows to the Myanmar military.”

Total and its partners in the producing Yadana offshore gas field and associated pipeline infrastructure, including Chevron, make in-kind distributions to state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in accordance with the terms of a domestic gas sales agreement.

“Chevron does not participate in MOGE’s onward distribution of the gas it receives pursuant to the domestic gas sales agreement and does not make distributions directly to the Myanmar military,” a spokesperson for the US supermajor told Upstream.

“Chevron is a long-term partner in Myanmar and we conduct our business in a responsible manner, respecting the law and universal human rights to benefit the communities where we work,” he said.

Myanmar’s democratically elected de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the start of the coup last month, this week appeared in court via video link where she was hit with fresh criminal charges.

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement this week: “As a close and friendly neighbour of Myanmar... Thailand has been following developments in Myanmar with concern.

“We hope all sides in Myanmar will exercise utmost restraint and engage in dialogue in order to achieve a peaceful resolution of the situation and the return to normalcy for the interests of the Myanmar people.”

Further pro-democracy protests were expected in cities and towns across Myanmar as Upstream went to press.